March 31, 2011
March 30, 2011
Well, if you're still unsure, here's the plot summary for the book, courtesy of Goodreads:
Mortimer Tate was a recently divorced insurance salesman when he holed up in a cave on top of a mountain in Tennessee and rode out the end of the world.
Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse begins nine years later, when he emerges into a bizarre landscape filled with hollow reminders of an America that no longer exists. The highways are lined with abandoned automobiles; electricity is generated by indentured servants pedaling stationary bicycles. What little civilization remains revolves around
Joey Armageddon's Sassy A-Go-Go strip clubs, where the beer is cold, the lap dancers are hot, and the bouncers are armed with M16s.
Accompanied by his cowboy sidekick Buffalo Bill, the gorgeous stripper Sheila, and the mountain man Ted, Mortimer journeys to the lost city of Atlanta - and a showdown that might determine the fate of humanity.
Pretty cool, huh? I think so, anyway. That's why I'm putting it on my wish list.
March 29, 2011
by Scott Snyder and Stephen King
illustrated by Rafael Albuquerque
Vertigo Comics (2010)
March 28, 2011
The Disappearance of Alice Creed
starring Gemma Arterton, Martin Compston, & Eddie Marsan
written & directed by J. Blakes
Maple Pictures (2010)
It's hard to recall a movie about a kidnapping that didn't romanticize or sugarcoat the actual criminal act. J. Blakes offers a film that is much sharper edged and remorseless in its portrayal of abduction. Sure, it's still a thriller that borders on exploitation at times, but if you want to see a kidnapping that instills genuine disgust for the abductors and fear for the abducted, you'll want to watch Alice Creed.
The movie begins from the perspective of the two abductors preparing an apartment in some unnamed part of London, boarding up windows, soundproofing walls, and fitting a bed with rope and shackles. Then they go out and get their target, Alice Creed (Arterton). The plan is simple and executed with a cold and detached efficiency. She's gagged, bound, and blindfolded, then tied to the bed, stripped, photographed, redressed in sweats, and left alone in her "cell" while the ransom note is sent replete with photos.
The two men (Compston and Marsan) are convinced the plan will work, but must rigidly remain focused or risk fouling up in some way that will get them arrested or killed. While one shows an aggressive and dominant attitude towards the situation, the other seems to have trepidations about what they are doing. It causes friction, but it's when they're separated that the real trouble brews. And when Alice finds an opening to break free and find help, that's when the stakes rise even higher.
Seeing Arterton's performance is difficult to watch at times, as the fear she exudes is palpable. The humiliation and powerlessness of being stripped and tied to a bed, even being forced to piss in a bottle while still tied to the bed, is an absolutely cringe-inducing ordeal to sit through as the audience. Compared to the abysmal Prince of Persia, which she also starred in, this movie shows her as a standout actress, and not just a pretty girl at the mercy of her captors.
As for the two men in the film, they do a fair job as well, and the interplay between them is rivoting. Suspicions mount and betrayals are formed. And what might otherwise be convoluted comes off as very organic.
There is one big flaw to the film, in my view, and that pertains to a key moment in the first act. I don't want to spoil it, but I will, so if you don't want to know then I suggest you stop reading. You see, Alice manages to get the jump on one of her captors after he unties her so she can defecate in a bucket. She gets his gun and is ready to shoot him and make a break for it, but when the guy takes off his mask and reveals himself as her boyfriend, Danny. He orchestrated the whole kidnapping and ransom to bilk her father of millions--money she's been cut off from--so they can run away together. But the other guy doesn't know they are together, and he's returned to the apartment, so she has to get back in bed and play along with Danny's plan or the whole plan will blow up in his face. And she relents. She gives him the gun and allows herself to be tied and gagged again, so the ransom can be paid, Danny can double-cross his partner, and the lovers can start over somewhere else.
When she decides to play along with Danny's repugnant plan, it sucked me right out of the movie. For two reasons: 1) I doubt any woman--or man for that matter--would not want to escape from that apartment immediately, and even shoot their lover in the scrotum while doing so; 2) she still attempts to escape later in the movie, thus making her look like a complete idiot because she's in an even worse situation as a result of waiting, when she could have made a clean getaway the first time by shooting both captors and walking right out of the building. As a matter of fact, now that I think about it, that's a damned infuriating plot hole.
But, if you can force yourself to ignore the logic of that one huge plot point, the movie is a very engrossing experience. If you can't get over that hump though, the rest of the movie is a waste of time and will only piss you off in the end.
March 25, 2011
March 24, 2011
If you do, you may want to reconsider. In what can only be described as shamefully unsettling news, several authors who were at one time or another associated with Dorchester, namely Leisure Books imprint, are not being paid for their work. And this has been going on for months on end.
I won't bother going into the details of it, but you can visit Brian Keene's blog where you will learn many disheartening facts over how he and other authors are being treated in a reprehensible fashion. CLICK HERE.
I haven't purchased a book from Dorchester since I learned of the whole debacle back in July of last year. But, I am now resolute in never purchasing another Leisure title until they have done the right thing and paid the authors what they are due, stop publishing books they no longer have the rights to, and start working towards restoring the reputation of a once heralded publisher of dark fiction.
I wrote a letter to Dorchester earlier today, as encouraged in a blog post by Robert Swartwood, and it looked something like this. If you're so inclined, I'd encourage you to contact them as well and voice your opinion--hopefully in a civil manner, too.
I'm officially boycotting Dorchester Publishing. I don't normally hop on these boycott bandwagons, but in this case I'll make an exception.
Perhaps this is merely an echo of sentiments already expressed towards Dorchester (and more specifically Leisure Books), but as a voracious reader who has purchased Leisure Books titles in the past, including those by Briane Keene, Ray Garton, Richard Laymon, and Jack Ketchum, the unsettling controversy between Dorchester and disgruntled authors provokes me to send this e-mail.
I have had opportunity to read and review multiple titles that have been released under the Leisure Books banner, but I can not in good conscience offer any further support--whether it be through purchasing books or reviewing them--if the issues expressed by Brian Keene and many others are not diligently addressed and resolved. If authors have been told that they would receive their rights back and/or paid what is owed them, yet actions by Dorchester speak to the contrary, something is seriously wrong and paints a very damaging light on a once heralded and well-respected publisher.
I find it disheartening that a publisher which, in the past, provided me a wellspring of great novels has become what essentially appears to be a blight on the writing world.
I certainly hope for a happy ending to this otherwise sad situation.
by John Brinling
March 23, 2011
Do you have an auto-buy author? I heard that term for the first time this year, meaning you basically buy a particular author's book automatically--no questions asked. Well, if I was gonna have an auto-buy author, I figure it'd be Richard Matheson.
Tor Books is publishing a new novel from the iconic storyteller called Other Kingdoms. Honestly, that's all I need to know about the book to know I want it. But, here's a little write-up summary courtesy of Goodreads:
The year is 1918. Alex White, a young American soldier recently wounded in the Great War, comes to Gatford to escape his troubled past. The pastoral English village seems the perfect spot to heal his wounded body and soul, but the neighboring woods are said to be haunted by capricious, even malevolent, spirits. He is warned to steer clear of the woods, and the perilous faerie kingdom it borders, but Alex cannot help himself. Drawn to its verdant mysteries, he finds love, danger, and wonders that will forever change his view of the world.
Sold. So, are you a fan of Matheson? Figure you'd be interested in reading this book, too?
Wilder Harding is a bloodhound, created by the Guild to hunt down and kill vampires on America’s frontier. His enhanced abilities come with a high price: on the full moon, he becomes capable of savagery beyond telling, while the new moon brings a sexual hunger that borders on madness.
Rescuing a weapons inventor from undead kidnappers is just another assignment, though one with an added complication—keeping his hands off the man’s pretty young apprentice, who insists on tagging along.
At odds with polite society, Satira’s only constant has been the aging weapons inventor who treats her like a daughter. She isn’t going to trust Wilder with Nathaniel’s life, not when the Guild might decide the old man isn’t worth saving. Besides, if there’s one thing she’s learned, it’s that brains are more important than brawn.
As the search stretches far longer than Wilder planned, he finds himself fighting against time. If Satira is still at his side when the new moon comes, nothing will stop him from claiming her. Worse, she seems all too willing. If their passion unlocks the beast inside, no one will be safe. Not even the man they’re fighting to save.
Warning: This book contains a crude, gun-slinging, vampire-hunting hero who howls at the full moon and a smart, stubborn heroine who invents mad-scientist weapons. Also included: wild frontier adventures, brothels, danger, betrayal and a good dose of wicked loving in an alternate Wild West.
March 22, 2011
starring Christina Ricci, Liam Neeson, Justin Long
directed by Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo
screenplay by Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo, Paul Vosloo, & Jakub Korolczuk
Anchor Bay Films (2010)
It's frustrating when a movie with such a strong cast brings such a weak story. After.Life had the potential to be a creepy, suspenseful film about death, mourning, and questions of the afterlife. If this was a song instead of a film, it would have been sung just a bit off-key.
Anna (Ricci) is a teacher in a tumultuous relationship with her boyfriend Paul (Long). After an incendiary argument at a restaurant, she leaves and is subsequently killed in a car accident. She awakes, however, and finds herself in the mortuary of the same funeral parlor in which she attended the funeral of her high-school music teacher the day before. The mortician (Neeson) and her carry on a conversation, where he informs her she is in fact dead and he is preparing her for her own funeral.
Resistant to the idea of death, Anna believes she's been drugged and abducted by the mortician, and begins searching for a way to escape. In the meantime, her boyfriend is torn up over her death, the fact that Anna's mother blames him, the director's refusal to grant him visitation of her body prior to the funeral, and the disturbing dreams in which he sees her. Then, there is the bullied student who takes on an odd preoccupation with Anna's death, as he visits the funeral parlor and converses with the director.
There is the lingering question of whether Anna really is dead, though. The mortician tells her that he has a gift that he can talk with the dead, and only he can hear them. But, while Anna is at first paralyzed, she soon regains her ability to move and sets out to escape. Now, if she's dead, then how is it she can prance about the building in her red silk camisole--a sight which I would swear was the main motivation behind making this movie at all--and cause the mortician to worry someone will see her roaming about at night. Is she a zombie?
The movie has a look that is, frankly, great. For a story that takes place in a funeral parlor for the majority of the time, the place is depicted with a strong aura of isolation and dread. The costumes are really well done too, what with Ricci's red silk teddy and Neeson's prim and proper attire. Even some of the dialogue is very good, with good on screen chemistry between Ricci and Neeson. But when all of the ingredients are brought together, the movie kind of falls apart. I won't go so far as to say the movie is terrible, but it feels like someone really dropped the ball and there is a ton of wasted potential.
This question was posed to a lot of bloggers by John Ottinger, over at Grasping for the Wind, who recently had an ordeal involving a forest fire in his area. You can read my response, as well as those of several other bloggers, by clicking here--and even leave a comment with which five books you'd want to save from certain destruction.
Also, in light of the horrendous tragedies that have befallen on Japan, you can visit the Red Cross and make a donation if you so wish. I imagine every penny counts right now.
March 21, 2011
Head Games takes the strange, ghostly tale told in Welcome to Lovecraft and takes a hard left into even weirder territory. It's been six months or so since I read the first volume in the Locke & Key series, but it didn't take long at all to get sucked into the story and watch it pick up right where it left off.
The first volume introduced the three Locke children coming to terms with their father's murder at the hands of a disturbed teen, Sam Lesser, plus Sam hunting them down, and a menacing spirit named Dodge seeking escape from its prison at the bottom of a well. In this second volume, the serial killer (Sam Lesser) is dead, but Dodge is free and disguised as a new friend to the Locke children. An affable teen boy named Zach.
Zach's--or Dodge's--disguise isn't perfect, though. He's recognized by an elderly schoolteacher who knew the Locke kids' father and his best friend, Luke--a previous incarnation of Dodge. With me so far? Good, because sufficed to say the teacher doesn't live long enough to get the word out. In fact, most of this volume deals with Dodge playing a bit of cat and mouse with everyone who either clues in to him or at least suspects there is something amiss.
The youngest of the three Locke kids, Bodie, doesn't play quite so prominent a roll as he did in the first volume, aside from finally figuring out how the mysterious second key he found works. And when he finally figures out what the key opens ... well, minds are blown. To be more accurate, minds are opened. Literally. It's a pretty wild concept that changes the tone of the book entirely. Where Welcome to Lovecraft had a pretty damned dark current running throughout it, Head Games has a bit lighter, more fantastical approach.
The Locke kids are great characters to root for and the continuation of their stories works well, played against the development of Dodge as the villain. The incredibly brief look at their mother and her burgeoning drinking problem and detachment from everything felt like it should have been touched upon more. I guess that's prelude to the third volume and whatever consequences exist will come to bear then.
While the story doesn't lead to any huge confrontation at the end, it instead offers a lot of tiny revelations, which seems to all be buildup. More often than not, I'm disappointed by the middle part of a trilogy, but this time I just went with it and really walked away satisfied. I do, however, really want some crazy shit to go down in the third volume.
March 18, 2011
by Lee Goldberg & William Rabkin
Adventures in Television, Inc. (2011)
The Dead Man blog
The new release is described as "... the first in an exciting new series of original short novels that blends the horror of Stephen King's THE GUNSLINGER with the action/adventure of Don Pendleton's MACK BOLAN: THE EXECUTIONER."
I have not read Pendleton's work, but I have read King's Dark Tower series. And while Face of Evil does carry an unrepentant amount of horror within its pages, though not to an imposing degree, the tone of the story is considerably different from The Gunslinger. It's far more grounded in our world with a protagonist far easier to relate to when reading. Perhaps this is where the Pendleton side of things comes into play.
On a cold February day, a body is discovered frozen under the snow at a ski resort. The body is that of Matthew Cahill, a man declared dead after he's lost in an avalanche three months prior--but he's not dead. Somehow, defying medical reasoning, Matthew survived. His ordeals, however, are just beginning as a malevolent force is waiting in the wings, ready to torment him and everyone he holds dear. What's worse, Matthew has crossed paths with this entity before and lost his wife in the process.
The book carries a blue-collar charm that provides a nice counter-balance to the more fantastical and gruesome elements of the story. Matthew is a sawmill worker, or was rather in the wake of layoffs, and is a precursor to his fateful encounter with the avalanche while on vacation with his new girlfriend, Rachel. Their budding and tragic romance provides a lot of the backbone to this story, as Matthew has to cope with the loss of his wife, the antics of his best friend, the loss of his job, and the subsequent resurrection from the ice and snow.
A lot for one guy to deal with, and it only gets heavier.
The book is a short novel, running probably closer to novella in length. And that's kind of a kick in the teeth, since the book only offers a small measure of closure in the time the story is told. This is the first book in a series, though. As such, it feels like the season premiere to a very promising show. Since it's a book, I'll have to wait a wee bit longer than a week for the next installment, but I'm a patient guy. Actually, the second installment is due to be released in a few weeks: The Dead Man #2: Hell in Heaven, which is again co-authored by Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin, with the series shaping up to include nine books in total.
I think this will end up being one to keep on eye on throughout the year.
March 17, 2011
starring Ryan Reynolds
directed by Rodrigo Cortes
What are the chances of being able to sit through a film that shows a man in a box for ninety minutes and nothing more? Prior to seeing this film, I would have told you there was no way in hell I'd sit through something so flagrantly foppish a display of film-making. Well, turns out I did--and I didn't have a boring time either.
Ryan Reynolds plays a truck driver, working in Iraq for a contractor, who wakes up in a coffin with nothing more than a lighter and his cellphone. The last thing he remembers is coming under enemy fire and seeing other drivers shot and killed in the firefight. So, he's buried alive and has little more than half a charge on his phone's battery. Time to panic. And that's the pull of the movie--trying to suck you into the experience and feel as isolated and helpless as him. It works to a better degree than if the director had opted to show a single scene outside the coffin. I'm pretty sure that if the cameras had been permitted to go anywhere outside that cramped space, the entire illusion of him being trapped and the feelings that go along with it would all have been lost.
The movie relies on a couple of things heavily. For one, Ryan Reynolds basically has to carry this entire movie on his back. Through the entire ordeal, all you see is either pitch black or small pockets of light that show his face. My television is crap for showing scenes that are in any kind of darkness, so I had to rely on the voice acting in the movie to carry me through quite a few scenes. This actually let me get up to cook supper and leave the movie running--didn't miss a whole lot beyond a few shots of Reynolds' panicked mug. The other thing the movie relies on is the artificial conspiracy theory floating around outside the box. Who put him there? What do they want? How are his employers and the government involved? Is anyone actually trying to rescue him?
The interplay between Reynolds and whichever actor is speaking to him on the phone comes off quite well, and a couple of the voices are pretty distinct. When he speaks to his employer later in the movie, try to tell me you don't know exactly who that is and are picturing him sitting in an office somewhere during that scene.For a movie that is as claustrophobic as the setting in which it takes place, it works fairly well. It's not a movie I'll be rushing to watch a second time, though. It's more of a movie experience that a viewer just wants to be able to say they've seen. It's a small movie and can be thankful of Reynolds' performance and star power for giving it as much publicity as it did last fall.
March 16, 2011
During the Sundance Film Festival, one loud-mouthed audience member achieved more publicity for a horror film than just about any publicist in attendance, whil simultaneously demonstrating the futility of protesting a movie of which he disapproved.
The collaboration of Jack Ketchum and Lucky McKee may have struck a bit of gold with the latest adaptation of Ketchum's work, The Woman. But before I ever get a chance to see the movie, I want to get my hands on the book. It's out via Crossroad Press.
Here's the write-up:
How about you? Any interest in reading this one too?
The Woman is the powerful story of the last survivor of a feral tribe of cannibals who have terrorized the east coast from Maine into Canada for years now. Badly wounded in a battle with police, she takes refuge in a cave overlooking the sea. Christopher Cleek is a slick, amoral — and unstable — country lawyer who, out hunting one day, sees her bathing in a stream. Fascinated, he follows her to her cave. Cleek has many dark secrets and to these he’ll add another. He will capture her, lock her in his fruit cellar, tame her and civilize her. To this end he’ll enlist his long-suffering wife Belle, his teenage son and daughter Brian and Peg, and even his little girl Darlin’, to aid him. So the question becomes, who is more savage? The hunter or the game?
March 15, 2011
Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness (Volume 3)
by Bryan Lee O'Malley
Oni Press (2006)
I was hoping to get through the entire series of Scott Pilgrim books before I saw the movie, but some things don't pan out the way you expect. Oh well.
So, at this point in Scott's story, he and his friends, including his new girlfriend, Romana Flowers, are at a concert. But who is performing? Why, none other than Scott's ex, the gal who broke his heart oh-so-many years ago, Envy Adams--just don't call her Natalie. In the movie, Envy Adams plays a pretty minor role, but this entire book is pretty much dedicated to her and the relationship she and Scott had. Oh the drama.
It's pretty much at this point in the series that you need to read from the beginning, because if you're not caught up on events and aren't familiar with the characters and their personalities, you are going to be lost as a reader. I say this because it had been several months since I last read the second book and had to do some mental tallying to remember how each character related to the next. At least seeing the movie provided a primer and helped, so that's something.
The big conflict in the book stems from the fact that Romana's ex-boyfriend, the next one in line that Scott must defeat, is the current boyfriend of Envy Adams. After a tense pow-wow in the green room backstage, the brawl ensues between the two boys, which basically has Scott getting his but handed to him by Todd, who is not only vegan but imbued with psychic powers from his self-righteous lifestyle choice. Before a winner is declared though, the fight stops and they schedule a rematch at a new location.
During the lulls and non-fighting segments of the story, we get flashbacks to Scott's and Envy's relationship in high school, and slowly discover why she is such a huge bitch, and why both she and Scott still carry such resentment towards each other. Meanwhile, Scott's other ex-girlfriend from the first two books, Knives Chau, keeps popping her head into the fray--still in love with Scott, but trying to move on in her own way.
The book carries a lot of the same charm that O'Malley put in the first two books, but carries more of an emo tone with Scott's dwelling on his relationship with Envy. Panels of him being all sad and confused and vulnerable. And with that, the humor takes a backseat more than it did in the two previous books. But when the humor is there, it's hitting on all cylinders.
Not sure when I will get a chance to read the fourth volume, but I'm looking forward to it.
March 14, 2011
When not on ten wooded acres near Austin, Texas, Camille Alexa lives in Portland, Oregon in an Edwardian home with very crooked windows. She graduated from the University of Toronto (not recently, she wishes to disclose) with degrees in Women’s Studies (interesting, but not very useful), Fine Art (useful and terribly interesting, and as lucrative as advertised), and English.
March 11, 2011
by Eric Garcia
March 9, 2011
I recently had the chance to cross Savage Season off my wish list, the first "Hap & Leonard" novel by Joe R. Lansdale. You can expect a review of it sometime down the road. But, now that I have read it, I have an appetite for more. And wouldn't you know he has a new adventure with the two men out now.
In Devil Red, the two east Texas ruffians turned investigators take on a cold case of an unsolved murder. Turns out it deals with some kind of vampire cult and they soon end up fighting for their lives.
Now, this sounds like a much different book from Savage Season, but if it has the same great kinds of characters and pace that the first book had, then I think I'm going to really enjoy this one. It's the eighth book in the series though, and I wonder just how much I'm going to be missing out on if I skip the other six and go right to this one.